In this week's issue of Phoenix New Times, we profiled 10 new(ish) bands we expect to dominate Phoenix iPods and boomboxes this long, hot summer. We'll be focusing more deeply on those artists over the next couple of days on Up on the Sun.
See the entire list: 10 Phoenix Bands You Should Be Listening to This Summer
It's easy to lump contemporary country bands into the pop-country genre. After all -- that's what is currently dominating the airwaves. But what if there was a band that embraced classic country sounds without sounding retro? You know, contemporary country, but with solid roots.
Tommy Ash Band is one such group, and a love story on top of that: Singer Tommy Ash and guitarist Benjamin Blanc-Dumont met while Ash was working in a Western store, got married, and started a band. The French born Blanc-Dumont moved to the States to chase the elusive American dream, and refers to the sound of The Tommy Ash Band as "spaghetti rock."
Up on the Sun: How has being in a relationship impacted your music? Is it more rewarding to play in a band with your significant other, or is it challenging? Tommy Ash: It's good because you can't be in a band unless you're dating the person, because you think about it every weekend. It takes so much time and commitment. Gosh, I don't know how this would work unless we were in a band together.
Benjamin Blanc-Dumont: Actually, there's a lot of other bands that do the same thing. It's better just because we spend that time together.
TA: It's rewarding for both of us; we get to share the excitement.
What's the country scene like in France?
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BBD: It's getting big. It's not that its underground. In France, they used to have popular dances. People just go to some kind of venue on the weekend and everybody danced. It was more French popular music, and country just took over. It's kind of linked to the dancing thing, mainly line-dancing festivals. People from all ages like country music, but that doesn't mean they can understand what they're talking about. They like the music and they like the idea of what it represents, just the American dream, just being out somewhere else. We're getting a lot of attention because of that, they think it's really cool. We'd like to do that soon with a CD.
What brought you to Arizona?
BBD: I had a job opportunity here and that was just luck, really. I was working with an American company in Paris and I knew they had offices everywhere in the states. I'd never been there before, but just because you see that in movies and pictures, it's just really where I wanted to be. I just love the outside here.
So, the Old West ideal?
BBD: Yes, totally. Linked to the American dream.
What can we expect from your upcoming album?
TA: I'm going to try to go for like 8 to 10 songs, but right now, we're just starting to do a little bit at a time. Just to start getting it done takes so much time. As for the sound, we're going for kind of a 'spaghetti rock,' [which] is what we call it, it's like rockabilly Western.
BBD: The stuff we really like is on the edge of old-school rock 'n' roll -- rockabilly, traditional country with a modern kind of twist to it. I know what I listen to is most of the old stuff. We also like AC/DC and more solid rock stuff. We try to make ourselves happy. It really took us awhile in the beginning to figure out exactly what we like because . . .
TA: . . . Because you were more real country like honky-tonk, and I was kind of more the rock and blues, so I think we kind of blended it together and we're starting to really find our sound.
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BBD: I think a lot of songs we have, they have that story telling. ["Play Like Fire"] is almost like a movie, it has that kind of close in it to kind of picture it. I think a lot of songs are going to have that Johnny Cash vibe: train beats, minor chords and what she was talking about, spaghetti. We have this whole Western kind of music [intended to be] Arizona music
TA: Like old western movies. It has, I don't know . . . It's something, we're not really sure what it is.